It's thanks to the wonderful Alex Starey of Keermont estate that we had the introduction to Chris Keet of Weather Report. Or as we should say, Chris Keet Junior, as he is nephew of as yet more famous Chris Keet, winemaker of Keet wines, previously winemaker of former South African icon, Cordoba. In the 1990s, just as South African wine started appearing on the international wine scene, a particular Cab Franc led Bordeaux blend named Crescendo became one of the Cape's first unicorn wines. It was made by Chris Keet, and it's in part thanks to this wine that Chris Keet Jnr chose to explore Cabernet Franc in his label, Weather Report.
Chris' day job sees him working as viticulturist at Bot River estate, Gabrielskloof where he was worked since 2019. It's the very same year he produced three Cabernet Francs for the first time, in the shared cellar space there alongside other young gun SA winemakers, Peter-Allan Finlayson of Crystallum and John Seccombe of Thorne & Daughters. Why the name Weather Report? As Chris says, "the weather always has the final say." Although Cabernet Franc is the sole focus for the moment, Chris is keen to make the most of not being tied down to a certain area or varieties. Like our very own Pieter Walser, Weather Report is about embracing the flexibility of exploring different regions, soils, climate, terroir and varieties, celebrating what makes each of them unique.
2019 saw the first release of three wines, working with four sites, and since then, he has steadily increased this in 2022 to 10. They're certainly not big sites, with several of them being tiny parcels tucked in corners of vineyards or on fruit farms, with just a few rows of vines nestled between fruiting orchards, with several discovered through word of mouth. One thing that Chris has really capitalised on his experience as a viticulturist. Whilst many of the Cape's up and coming winemakers solely buy fruit from growers but are unable to have much say in the farming. Chris however, has had great luck with the majority of the sites he is working with, with the farmers giving him a free rein to farm how he'd like to - without chemical influence, and always looking to improve the health of the soil, vine and biodiversity.
As for his influences? No fancy names really, more the wines he likes to drink, wines made in a similarly low intervention way to Chris' own, from vineyards farmed in a similar sensitive, regenerative way. On a stint working in the Roussillon in 2015, his eyes were opened to wines with texture which he looks back at fondly, and then of course, there's his uncle. We are thrilled to welcome them to our portfolio.